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Submitted: 09-30-2013 by Adam
I own two kayaks, an NDK Romany and the Valley Skerray Excel. I have had the Skerray for nearly three years. I did not know of this Valley kayak when looking at it. My first thought was Nordkapp resemblance. The British owner gave me such a smoking deal I didn't research it. I got lucky because I haven't looked back. I have owned nine kayaks and tested many more at paddle-fest and demos. I am a 20 plus year advanced paddler. Doing this review was not my idea. I was talked into it by a kayak buddy, who had just done a review on the same boat in Paddling.net. It has taken a while to get around to it. Finally here it is:
This is a kayak for big guys. I am not. I am 5 ft. 10 in. and 175 lbs. I fit in the keyhole cockpit with no problems. My size 11 feet have good clearance. I have had this kayak on 3 to 5 day tours on the west coast of British Columbia and Alaska. I have been in duck pond gentle swells and big gnarly seas. This kayak could tell stories about the nasty rough seas encountered while touring outside waters. Not a lot phases the Skerray.
It does not need a big load on to be stable. Both initial and secondary stability are incredible. It is a great surfer and takes it well broadside. It does not corkscrew in a following sea because of the rocker and shallow V hull design.
When I first purchased the kayak I was concerned about the flared Greenland bow and stern catching the wind. It had less wind cocking than my other tour kayaks. You controlled it by adjusting your skeg leaver. The recessed slide leaver in front of the cockpit, is connected to a heavy duty stainless aircraft cable and gives precise adjustment.
The kayak has very good speed. It is also very maneuverable with the skeg up and rolling on edge considering the 17 ft. 8 in. hull & 24 in. beam. The weight is 58 lbs. This is a very strong, well built kayak that has been on the rocks with no damage other than scuffing. The kayak has a Greenland lower stern deck. There is a compass and rope cam cleat on deck.
It has the typical back band you find in other British boats with an ergonomically shaped plastic seat. It is good for aggressive day paddling in the surf and rolling but not something I like to sit in for the long hours we spend on multi-day tours. I need something with upper lumbar support. I have added a piece of PE plastic and a 2 in. thick foam pad up against the combing that still allows me to get the skirt on.
It has the larger oval hatch covers on the bow and stern hatches. The 3rd. stern day hatch is bigger than most. This is ample storage for a British kayak. The hatch system is water tight. There is an under deck storage net in front accessible to the paddler and a small net on deck next to the day hatch.
I had a chance to paddle the roto-mould version of the Skerray and found it a very different kayak than the composite model. It was a good looking kayak but didnít track as well or have near the speed of my kayak. It also sat lower in the water. It was more maneuverable when edging, (could turn on a dime) and a fun boat to play around in. I still wouldn't trade boats.
I have tested a lot of tour boats in the last 20 years. Some are fast, some real good trackers, some very maneuverable and playful, some just good sea boats and so on. The Skerray Excel is a big improvement over my previous tour kayaks. Of all the boats I have owned and tested I have yet to find a tour boat as close to perfect for my style of paddling as the Skerray Excel so it gets a ten.
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